Based on American novel called "Tomboy" ,which makes sense cause the leader of the pack is a girl who,like the precedent user pointed out ,resembled French pop singer France Gall.Daniele Gaubert would continue her career through the sixties,her most celebrated part was " lonesome the she wolf" a failed attempt at making a female "Diabolik".Then she married ski champion Jean-Claude Killy and died from cancer at an early age.
It was the second time Carné had tackled the "youth" subject.In his precedent -and IMHO much better- "les tricheurs" ,he told the story of a girl ,Mic,who tried to be part of a circle of rich kids ,the golden youth of Saint Germain des Prés."Terrain vague" is a different matter ,cause it takes place in poor milieus.Ouside Big Chief (Roland Lesaffre, Carné's favorite actor and his spokesman in the movie),the youngsters are beyond the adults' command ,and Carné is not afraid to say it's high time they faced up to their responsibilities.The stairs the tired lady is climbing step by step is a good metaphor of a lost generation of parents when their baby boomers grow angry and tired of the empty life they are about to live.No future .If nobody cares about us,why should we care about them?
That said ,the first part is a bit list less,but things go much better in the second one,recalling sometimes "Rebel without a cause" ,a feeling that the threesome Dan /Lucky /Babar reinforces : it will remind you of Natalie Wood/James Dean/Sal Mineo in Ray's classic.
This was arguably Carné's last good film (not great).All the films to come would be disappointments.
We must not forget,never forget ,that Marcel Carné was one of the greatest directors of all time in his heyday (1936:"Jenny "to 1946:"les Portes de la Nuit";between those two years, all Carné made was classic)
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